For those who don't know, Logan Paul, a 22-year-old YouTuber famous for his outrageous vlogs and music videos, posted a video in which he filmed an actual dead body hanging in Japan's Aokigahara forest (AKA Japan's "suicide forest"). The video instantly received widespread backlash and outrage for Paul's insensitive and disrespectful actions. In response, Paul removed the video and issued an apology on Twitter.
The apology, however, was also met with a widely negative response as many felt that Paul's wording came across as arrogant (i.e "I get views") and disingenuous as the apology seemed to excuse his actions by saying he "[got] caught up in the moment" while filming a new video everyday.
Presumably after realizing his Twitter apology wasn't well received, Paul posted an apology video on YouTube which remains on his channel today. In the brief video (1:44 minutes), Paul discusses how he made a "severe...lapse in judgment" and that his reaction on tape was "raw and unfiltered." He also acknowledges that he should have never posted the video and "[doesn't] expect to be forgiven."
Now that I've explained the simplified recount of the events that took place, I'd like to give my own opinion on the situation. As most people were, I was completely outraged when I saw the video. I did not see it before Paul removed it from his channel, but by the time he did it had already been downloaded and re-uploaded by others. I am not going to link the video that I watched here as I do not want to something so heinous to continue spreading. When I watched it, I had trouble keeping my eyes on the screen. Besides blurring the face, the body was shown in its entirety; I couldn't believe it, a real person who had presumably taken their own life now on display for millions of people to watch. Paul had made a spectacle of a very serious and tragic event, one which he jokes and laughs about during the video. In his defense, Paul claimed that the laughing and jokes were his way of reacting to such a traumatic experience. I have laughed during extremely somber events too, so I don't doubt this to be true. However, the fact that Paul was able to return home, watch the video, edit it, and then upload it makes his excuses and claims of a "mistake" less viable.
I could go on about how disgusted I am with Paul's behavior, but instead I want to focus on the larger issue at hand which is YouTube itself. I have been an avid consumer of YouTube since I was very young. My friends and I would watch funny cartoon videos, people lip syncing, and hours of music videos. When I was eleven, I became obsessed with watching Jenna Marbles and other creators who were just regular people using the platform to express themselves through makeup tutorials, hilarious rants, or witty skits. To me, the allure of YouTube was that anyone could create an account and upload videos, that everyone had a voice. The people I watched weren't doing it for fame or money, as being a "YouTuber" wasn't considered a viable career at the time. As the years passed, this rapidly changed.
Today, YouTube is largely dominated by creators trying to be the next big thing; rarely will you see someone sitting in front of their laptop webcam showing you how to apply your drugstore makeup. Videos are now shot with expensive cameras and edited to perfection, "vlogging" largely taking over the scene with "clickbait" titles meant to shock and attract viewers.
Creators can make millions of dollars through sponsorships, advertisements, creating merchandise, and going on tours to meet with fans. Thus, a platform that has the potential of providing instant fame and success is suddenly flooded by those whose sole purpose is to make money. And, of course, the more sensationalized the video, the more people it is bound to reach. In their most recent Podcast, Jenna Marbles and Julien Solomita discuss Logan Paul and Marbles theorizes that his insensitive video is a result of this clickbait culture. To me, this rationalization makes the most sense; Paul is so focused on creating shocking content that he has removed himself from reality. Indeed, because of the extreme backlash, Paul's video and channel went viral, resulting in more views, press, and subscribers.
It is really terrifying that creators like Philip DeFranco who make news videos about important events for educational purposes are demonetized and given little support while channels like Logan Paul's that feature sensationalized and insensitive content are pushed to the top of the trending page. All I can say moving forward is that we, as viewers, have more control than we think. If we support, subscribe to, like, and share creators that deserve praise and recognition, who are making genuine content that doesn't rely on shock value, maybe things will change. It is undeniable that Paul has a large fanbase and its easy to say that YouTube is not as a good as it used to be, but we can still make a difference. We can demand change.
On that note, I am going to leave a list of just a fraction of YouTubers that I suggest watching instead of Logan Paul:
1. Kalyn Nicholson
2. Shane Dawson
3. Julien Solomita
4. Karissa Pukas
6. Phlip DeFranco
7. Jenna Marbles
8. Brad Mondo
9. Brittany Lewis
Videos I used for this article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAyvEft9MIs&t=674s, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u31uorMMi-g
Images taken from https://twitter.com/LoganPaul?lang=en and Google images
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